• Search

Federal Judge Says Gov. DeSantis Was Wrong To Suspend ‘Woke’ Prosecutor, Refuses To Reinstate Him

By Holly Matkin and Sandy Malone

Tallahassee, FL – A federal judge has ruled Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was wrong to suspend “woke” Hillsborough County State’s Attorney Andrew Warren for allegedly pledging not to enforce the state’s laws, but said it was not within the court’s power to reinstate the ousted prosecutor.

“The assertion that Mr. Warren neglected his duty or was incompetent is incorrect,” U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said in the 59-page ruling issued on Jan. 20, according to ABC News. “This factual issue is not close.”

“Running a state attorney’s office is the state attorney’s job, not the governor’s,” Hinkle added. “A governor cannot properly suspend a state attorney based on policy differences.”

He said DeSantis also violated Warren’s rights under the First Amendment, but noted that the governor “would have made the same decision [to suspend Warren] anyway, even without considering these things,” according to CNN.

The judge said that it was not within the court’s power to reinstate the suspended prosecutor, even though Hinkle said he strongly believes DeSantis was in the wrong, ABC News reported.

“The First Amendment violations were not essential to the outcome and so do not entitle Mr. Warren to relief in this action,” Hinkle said, according to CNN. “The suspension also violated the Florida Constitution, and that violation did affect the outcome. But the 11th Amendment prohibits a federal court from awarding declaratory or injunctive relief of the kind at issue against a state official based only on a violation of state law.”

He ultimately ruled in the governor’s favor as a result.

Warren’s attorney, David O’Neil, said the judge’s verbiage was a major win for his client, regardless of the fact that the court was unable to reinstate him, ABC News reported.

“On the merit and substance, this ruling was a complete rebuke of Governor DeSantis,” said O’Neil.

Warren’s legal team is now looking into what next steps they can take to continue their effort to get him back into office, ABC News reported.

“This is not over,” Warren told reporters one day after the ruling, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

DeSantis issued an executive order suspending Warren back in August of 2022.

He called the chief prosecutor for the 13th Judicial Circuit covering Hillsborough County “woke” and cited Warren’s positions on abortion laws, transgender medical treatment, and numerous other high-profile and controversial issues, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Warren chairs the Florida Democratic Party’s Safety & Justice Task Force and has been outspoken on criminal justice reform, too, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“Our government is a government of laws, not a government of men,” the governor said.

“Over the last few years individual prosecutors take it upon themselves to determine which laws they like and will enforce, and which laws they don’t like and won’t enforce and the results of this in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have been catastrophic,” DeSantis continued.

Warren called his suspension a “political witch hunt” and “an illegal overreach that continues a dangerous pattern by Ron DeSantis of using his office to further his own political ambition,” the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

“It spits in the face of the voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve them, not Ron DeSantis,” the prosecutor complained.

Warren was elected in November of 2016 and re-elected with 53 percent of the vote in 2020, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

But rising crime has sparked discussions in the community as to whether Warren continued to represent the best interests of his constituents.

“I don’t think the people of Hillsborough County want to have an agenda that is basically woke,” the governor said. “To take a position that you have veto powers over the laws of the state is untenable.”

DeSantis said a statewide review of prosecutors quickly zeroed in on Warren, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

The governor said Warren “put himself publicly above the law.”

Warren has publicly vowed that he will not enforce the state’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

“The response that we got was a lot of frustration on the part of law enforcement for criminals being let go and crimes not being prosecuted… I can tell you it’s been a very, very troubling record,” DeSantis explained.

DeSantis has used his gubernatorial powers to remove certain elected officials more times than his predecessors, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

One of the first things he did after he was elected governor was suspend former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel for his poor performance handling the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


Sign up to our daily newsletter so you don't miss out on the latest events surrounding law enforcement!

Follow Me

Follow us on social media and be sure to mark us as "See First."